A continuation of the a general “what to expect” the first few days in country:
The past two days have been spent going over health lessons (malaria, cleaning our food and water, etc.), sessions on living with or host families, and French. As a bonus, we walked around Ouaga for a bit on the 19th, and we visited the U.S. Embassy and had a big dinner at the Country Directors house on the 11th.
I’m not going to lie. I was practically falling asleep during the malaria session but I paid much more attention during the others. Despite the heat and the new environment, I thought I was getting enough sleep but the fact that I keep feeling myself nod off during sessions has proven otherwise. I get the feeling that I won’t actually start sleeping well until I live in my own house, 3 months from now, where I can have a schedule that doesn’t feel like its running me ragged.
Our lessons on living with our host families were pretty entertaining and informative. The PC staff did a skit on what we could probably expect to happen on our first day with our host families, in French of course. We were told that the Burkinabe love acting and that was 100% clear in the skit. We also went over a list of FAQ when living in someone else’s house in a foreign country.
So about the French language…it turns out I am considered a “novice high,” French speaker. I thought I would end up a little higher than novice but I suppose its fine. The goal is to be fluent at some point so I have to start where I am placed and work my way up. I have to pass as an “intermediate high,” in order to complete my PST. So I guess I better get studying because I only have 3 months to improve 3 levels.
Our visit to the embassy was nice. We got to meet the acting ambassador, a representative of USAID, and some other State Department staff. They went over some of the things they do in their departments before opening up the floor for questions. After which, we were carted off to the house of our Country Director and had dinner. The PC staff and the embassy staff joined us. I got a chance to sit by the USAID representative and listen while he answered a ton of questions about what he does and what he things of the development process in Burkina.
On the 12th (tomorrow if I can get enough wifi to post this tonight) is one of the big days everyone is anticipating, moving to Leo and meeting our host families. Personally, I am not terribly excited. Something feels so unnerving about moving in with a family you don’t know, especially when you don’t speak the language very well. Though I know their job is to help me learn the language, and other skills, it makes me super nervous. I’m sure they will be fantastic, but I know it will be a little awkward for the first few days at the least.
Since I will be leaving Ouaga and going to Leo, I probably won’t have internet access for a while. Also, training from here on out will most likely just be more health, safety, and language and of course no one wants to hear about the day to day of that. So its bye for now!